DALLAS - For one night, anyway, the New York Knicks "won'' their trade-away of Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks rolled into Dallas and won, and while there was nothing especially wrong with KP's performance (Porzingis scored 23 points to go along with 12 rebounds and two blocks), he was bested by the guy who essentially replaced him, DFW native Julius Randle, who scored 44.
In observing the game, Knicks legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe tweeted that Porzingis, 25, has declined from being a franchise player with the Knicks to a “functional skilled big” in Dallas.
"Hot takes'' on Porzingis are part of the deal, we suppose. The injuries are a major part of the story. He tore his ACL in 2018 when he was still with the Knicks and still misses time due to an injury to his other knee, a back ailment, "load management,'' whatever. Additionally, there are now rising questions about his "fit'' with superstar teammate Luka Doncic being atop the Dallas pecking order.
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Some of the concerns are real. Some of the criticism is fair. The $158-million idea with Porzingis was supposed to be about approaching greatness. Dallas, instead, is at 30-25, having lost four of its last six (including three straight at home), and therefore trying to approach "goodness.''
But pokes at Porzingis are, it could be argued, ill-timed.
Porzingis is presently experiencing his best stretch of the season, totaling 20 points in five straight games with 10 rebounds in four of his last five games. In the last five games, Porzingis is averaging 24.8 points and 12.4 boards per game.
A small sample, you say?
As our Dalton Trigg notes, KP is this year averaging 20.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 47.9 percent and 36.6 percent from the arc.The full list of guys averaging those numbers?
Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Christian Wood and ... Kristaps Porzingis. That's it.
This does nothing to erase Randle's 44 points, does nothing to suddenly vault Dallas into the coveted No. 6 spot in the West, does nothing to assure that the Luka-KP marriage will work, and that it will be fortified by even more talent this summer.
But it does signify one thing: A 7-3 guy KP averaging 20.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 47.9 percent and 36.6 percent from the arc ... is pretty damn "functional.''